John R. Clarke, Ph.D., FUHM, is retiring as the Scientific Director of the Navy Experimental Diving Unit (NEDU), fulfilling the role of Chief Scientist since 1991. He is a Fellow of Undersea and Hyperbaric Medicine. He has taught and conducted diving research at both poles (Svalbard and McMurdo Station), and on top of decades of work in diving engineering and physiology, has done research for the Navy and Air Force fighter jet community. Many foreign and domestic universities have called upon him to examine their graduate students in physiology and engineering. From 1979 to 1991 he conducted diving research at the Naval Medical Research Institute, Bethesda, MD where he was the Program Director; Diving Life Support Equipment. He was a Fellow in Respiratory Mechanics at the University of Florida School of Medicine from 1977-1979, where he conducted human research on a deep saturation dive to 1500 fsw at NEDU. He received his Ph.D. in physiology from FSU, M.S. and B.S. from Georgia Tech.
I cannot remember a time when I did not write.
First, it was on the wallpaper in my bedroom as a kindergartner. Red crayons were my writing instrument; red was my favorite color. Not cool.
That was followed by my poetry period, stimulated by reading Dante’s Inferno and ee cummings. Not unexpectedly, my teenage poetry seemed to be heavy on angst; dreary Kansas winters, unrequited love, typical adolescent themes.
In college my poetry improved, capped by my masterpiece, “Ooey Gooey Chocolate.” Everyone loves chocolate, right? My internal critic says I also wrote a wonderful short story about hippies in Atlanta during the ‘60’s free love era. Unfortunately, I had no experience in the free love part. Maybe that’s why the story was not compelling.
My first two paid writing gigs came from the Georgia Tech Engineer where I started each piece with a bit of creative writing. Back then, $25 per article was real money for a fledgling writer. It could buy a lot more than half a tank of gas.
Graduate school had me writing good science, I like to believe, but hardly any creative stuff. What can you say creative about the effects of deep sea pressure on mussel hearts that had been ripped from their little mucousy bodies and suspended in a ghoulish sort of way? Some things are only of interest to scientists.
Later, as my reputation as a scientist and a writer grew, I was asked to write two chapters for a science reference book. The publisher was Marcel-Dekker, and it paid a good bit more than the Georgia Tech Engineer.
As I was fulfilling my ambition to write a non-fiction book on paranormal events, I met the novelist Max McCoy who was writing a novel about diving. Well, I know something about diving, so he visited my work place, the Navy Experimental Diving Unit, and later showed me his draft manuscript for The Moon Pool. For fun, I penned some changes to his final chapter, and the publisher kept them, with modification. (I had quite unselfishly added myself as a heroic pilot and Scientific Director; as they say, “write what you know.”)
With the stimulation of that mild success, my lust for military/science fiction thrillers was ignited, and has resulted in the Jason Parker Trilogy.